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Insights Daily Current Events, January 11, 2014



January 11, 2014


CCEA approved renaming of Mill Gate Price Scheme as Yarn Supply Scheme

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the renaming of Mill Gate Price Scheme (MGPS) as Yarn Supply Scheme (YPS).
  • The CCEA also approved the continuation of the MGPS with the new name in the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) and allowed 10 percent subsidy component with modifications.
  • The Scheme has been allotted an outlay of 443 crore rupees in the 12th Plan.Under the Scheme, the target for the 12th Plan is to supply 3506 lakh kg yarn worth of 4364 crore rupees.
  • Besides, the Scheme aims to provide the services to identified beneficiaries. 23 lakh handloom units have been identified as beneficiaries.
  • The Scheme provides subsidized yarn to the under-privileged weavers and vulnerable groups so that they can compete with the powerloom and mill sector.

Mill Gate Price Scheme (MGPS): The MGPS was launched in 1992 by the National Handloom Development Corporation under the Union Ministry of Textiles. The Scheme is to make yarn available to handloom weavers at mill gate price by reimbursing transportation charges to depot operating agencies, primary weavers cooperative societies, apex societies and other handloom organizations.

Nirbheek, India’s first gun for women, launched

  • India’s first gun for women, Nirbheek was launched on 9 January 2014.
  • It is a tribute to the gang rape victim of December 2012, Nirbhaya.
  • Gun has been manufactured by the Indian Ordnance Factory, Kanpur.
  • It is a 0.32 bore light weight revolver which has been developed to give more power to women to defend themselves.
  • It only weighs 500 grams and is made of titanium alloy. Besides, being the lightest revolver, Nirbheek is also the smallest revolver made in India.
  •  For it simple mechanism and light frame it has been described by arms experts as an Indian hybrid of a Webley& Scott and Smith & Wesson.

SC directed Centre to appoint a National Regulator to oversee implementation of Forest Policy

  • The Supreme Court of India  directed the Government of India to appoint a national regulator to oversee the implementation of forest policy. The court rejected the contention that there is no need for such a body.
  • The Supreme Court Bench of three judges, which was headed by A K Patnaik and comprised justices SS Nijjar and FMI Kalifulla, while hearing a PIL, also ordered the Centre to file an affidavit on compliance of its order by 31 March 2014.
  • The bench also observed that directing the implementation of the national regulator is must as the present system under the central government was deficient.
  • The bench of the Court in its order said to the Union of India to appoint a regulator with its offices in as many states as possible.
  • The judgment was passed after rejecting the plea of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) that there is no need to need to appoint such a regulator to oversee the implementation of forest policy.
  • In its order the Court made it clear that the regulator will see the implementation of the Forest Policy of 1988, while the clearances will be made under the Forest Act by the MoEF only.

The national regulator will deal directly the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of 2006 for every project.


INDIA – JAPAN Economic Relationship:


The launching of the economic liberalization programme in India in 1991 was a landmark development in the post-independent economic history of India. The new policy had placed India on the road to free and market economy.

Japan, which had always entertained deep misgivings about India’s earlier inward-looking economic strategy based on import substitution, welcomed the liberalization policy.

Japanese foreign direct investment into India

The Economic reforms coincided with a period of global surge in FDI outflows. Investment outflows from Japan also registered an impressive rise even from the 1980s. During this period, US, Europe, China and ASEAN countries remained top destinations of investment for Japanese companies.

Though economic liberalization policy of India was welcomed by Japan, Investments in India remained far below compared to other countries. The reasons were numerous i.e. issues related to infrastructure, custom clearance, taxation, land acquisition, official bottlenecks in India and cheap labour and investment friendly climate in others countries.

The period following the nuclear tests by India in 1998, Japanese companies hesitated in investing in India. The diplomatic relations remained nearly frozen during this period and so the economic relations. It was only after the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Mori, the relations became normal.

India is emerging as a favored destination in Asia for Japanese FDI. DIPP (Department of Policy and Promotion) statistics show that Japanese companies have made actual investments of $14.85 billion to India between April 2000 and August 2013. This accounted for 7% of total FDI inflow into India and made Japan the 4th largest investor in India (top three being Mauritius, Singapore, U.K.).

According to the Japanese External Trade Organization, (JETRO), Japanese firms increasingly prefer India as an investment destination over China. The availability of a large market and abundance of semi-skilled and skilled workforce make India an attractive destination.

In the private sector, Japanese investments in India have been mainly in the form of mergers and acquisitions( M & R), as is evidenced from Japanese-Indian companies ties like Ranbaxy-Daiichi Sankyo, Hero-Honda, Tata- DOCOMO, etc. which have made sizeable investments in India.

The majority of investments have been in traditional fields like automobiles, auto parts and electronics, although some companies have invested in businesses like pharmaceuticals (EISAI), health drinks (Yakuruto), pulp (Nihon Koso) and rice processing (Yanmar). Japan’s small and medium enterprises have also started to discover India as the new growth market.

Share of Japan in FDI equity inflows from April 2000 to august 2013

  1. Rank: Japan ranks 4
  2. Percentage share of total FDI inflows: is 7.36%
  3. Total FDI Inflows from Japan: are US$ 14.85 billion

Top sectors that attracted FDI equity inflows (from April 2000 to August 2013), from Japan, are:

  1. Services Sector (19%)
  2. Construction Development: Townships, Housing, Built-Up Infrastructure and Construction-Development Projects (11%)
  3. Telecommunications (6%)
  4. Computer Software & Hardware (6%)
  5. Drugs & Pharmaceuticals (6%)

Portfolio investment and its growth

Another trend that deserves to be noted is the steady increase in the number of portfolio funds through which the Japanese could invest in the Indian stock market. The India Portfolio Fund that was started only in 2004 has already attracted huge Japanese investments into the Indian stock market. The total asset of the Japanese portfolio investment funds amounted to $8.2 billion in March 2007.

Bilateral trade

Trade between Japan and India had never been impressive. Japan has always enjoyed favorable balance of trade with India except in 2001 and 2002. Improving bilateral trade between India and Japan has always been a priority agenda for both the countries.

Realizing this in November 2004, the then Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Junichiro Koizumi and the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh agreed to set up a Joint Study Group (JSG) to study all aspects and give its recommendations on strengthening economic relations between the two countries. The JSG in its Report of June 2006 concluded that there was a huge potential to deepen and expand existing bilateral economic relations. The negotiations for Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) commenced in January 2007 and were concluded after fourteen rounds in September 2010. The Japan- India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement finally came into effect in August 2011.

 It covers such areas as trade in goods and services, investments, intellectual property rights, customs procedure. CEPA goal is to abolish tariffs over 94 per cent items bilaterally traded over a period of next ten years.

To be Continued..


Nuclear security around the world

  • In 2009 President Obama delivered a speech in Prague in which he called nuclear terrorism one of the greatest threats to international security. With that in mind, US hosted the first Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Washington DC in 2010, in order to draw attention, at the highest possible level, to the need to secure nuclear material and thus prevent nuclear terrorism.
  • Forty-seven countries and three international organisations participated in the first Nuclear Security Summit, held in Washington in 2010. The aim of the summit was to improve worldwide nuclear security by enhancing cooperation and to make concrete agreements aimed at better securing nuclear materials and facilities.
  • Commitments made in Washington in 2010:
    • Leaders jointly affirmed the seriousness and urgency of the threat posed by nuclear terrorism.
    • The participating countries agreed to work to secure all vulnerable nuclear material worldwide.
    • The participating countries agreed to shoulder their responsibility for securing nuclear material within their own borders.
    • The participating countries agreed to work together as an international community to improve nuclear security.
  • In 2012 the second NSS was held in Seoul. Fifty-three countries and four international organisations were invited. The first summit was concerned with making political agreements, while the follow-up in Seoul focused on the progress made on implementing those agreements.
  • New ambitions were added to the Washington Work Plan: the participants recognised the need to increase synergy between nuclear safety and security and better protect radiological sources from theft and misuse. Radiological sources may not be usable for a nuclear weapon, but they are well suited for making a ‘dirty bomb’, which can release radiation and cause social upheaval.
  • Nuclear Materials Security Index has been introduced, which surveyed the precautions,  each country had in place and ranked them based on their security practices
  • The 2014 summit(Third NSS summit) will chart the accomplishments of the past four years, identifying which of the objectives set out in the Washington Work Plan and the Seoul Communiqué have not been met and proposing ways to achieve them.

The Netherlands will focus on the following achievable and visible goals:

  1. optimal security for and, if at all possible, a reduction in the use of highly enriched uranium and plutonium.
  2. Ratification of the amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material by more countries to ensure that the amendment enters into force as soon as possible.
  3. More frequent reviews of state security structures by IAEA advisory missions.
  4. National registration and protection of highly radioactive sources (e.g. medical equipment).
  5. Greater role for industry in nuclear security, to enhance the security culture and existing regulations.
  6. States should provide information to their own people and the international community to demonstrate that they are taking appropriate measures to maintain the security of their nuclear material and facilities. These confidence-building measures will increase trust in the international protection system.
  • Gift baskets

Certain countries involved in the NSS are interested in taking a specific security theme a step further. These countries are being given the opportunity to offer a ‘gift basket’, an extra initiative. The idea is for presenters of such gift baskets to acquire the backing of as many countries as possible, which will in turn function as role models for a given aspect of security.

  • For example, the Netherlands, with the help of the highly respected Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI), has taken the lead in further developing a gift basket that fosters expertise and cooperation in the field of nuclear forensics (forensic analysis of incidents involving nuclear or radiological materials) and international cooperation in this field.
  • In a US based study, it has found that India has one of the weakest nuclear securities in the world.
  • Number of nations having material for making nuclear bombs has been reduced by 25% over the past 2 years.
  • But there remain weak links which could be dangerous as these could be exploited by terrorists.
  • Study  used various factors such as accounting methods, physical security and transportation security etc for finding safety of nuclear material.
  • Israel, Pakistan, India, Iran and North Korea are the weakest link in nuclear security.
  • Study has ranked Australia as having the best nuclear security arrangements, followed by Canada, Switzerland, Germany and Norway. The US is at 11th rank.
  • Australia was able to do so by reducing its quantity of nuclear materials and by ratifying a treaty that commits countries to criminalise acts of nuclear terrorism and to cooperate in bringing nuclear criminals to justice.
  • Belgium improved by passing new security legislation, joining a treaty and decreasing its quantity of materials.
  • Canada ratified treaties and issued new regulations on the transport of atomic materials for improving its score
  • Japan has made sweeping nuclear upgrades after the 2011 Fukushima reactor disaster, including the formation of a regulatory body to address nuclear safety and security. It rose from 23rd in the rankings to 13th.
  • As per the study, Mexico, Sweden, Ukraine, Vietnam, Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary have removed all or most of the weapons-usable nuclear materials on their territories since 2012.
  • The drop in the number of countries possessing such materials could be seen as encouraging for President Barack Obama’s declared ambition to lock down all of the world’s highly enriched uranium and plutonium.
  • North Korea remained in last place.
  • There are an estimated 1,400 tons of highly enriched uranium and almost 500 tons of plutonium stored in hundreds of sites around the world.
  • The 2014 and 2016 meetings will provide opportunities for the moments of accountability for states to show progress on their own nuclear materials security and their commitment to working toward a robust global nuclear security system.



“Criticality” and safety in a Nuclear Power Plant

When the fission reactor of a nuclear power plant is operating normally it is said to be “critical” or in a state of “criticality. The word often describes situations with potential for disaster. Nevertheless, in the context of nuclear power, “criticality” indicates that a reactor is operating safely. Criticality is a balanced state.

Nuclear reactors use uranium fuel rods to create energy through fission. Fission is the process of splitting the nuclei of uranium atoms to release neutrons that in turn split more atoms, releasing more neutrons. Criticality means that a reactor is controlling a sustained fission chain reaction where each fission event releases a sufficient number of neutrons to maintain an ongoing series of reactions. In the balanced state of criticality, fuel rods inside a nuclear reactor are producing and losing a constant number of neutrons, and the nuclear energy system is stable. In a nuclear reactor, the neutron population at any instant is a function of the rate of neutron production (due to fission processes) and the rate of neutron losses (via non-fission absorption mechanisms and leakage from the system). When a reactor’s neutron population remains steady from one generation to the next (creating as many new neutrons as are lost), the fission chain reaction is self-sustaining and the reactor’s condition is referred to as “critical”. When the reactor’s neutron production exceeds losses, characterized by increasing power level, it is considered “supercritical”, and; when losses dominate, it is considered “subcritical” and exhibits decreasing power.

Controlling criticality: When a reactor is starting up, the number of neutrons is increased slowly in a controlled manner. Neutron-absorbing control rods in the reactor core are used to control neutron production. The control rods are made from neutron-absorbing elements such as cadmium, boron, or hafnium. The deeper the rods are lowered into the reactor core, the more neutrons the rods absorb and the less fission occurs. Technicians pull up or lower the control rods into the reactor core depending on whether more or less fission, neutron production, and power are desired. If a malfunction occurs, technicians can remotely plunge control rods into the reactor core to quickly soak up neutrons and shut down the nuclear reaction.

What is “super criticality”?

At start-up, the reactor is briefly put into a state that produces more neutrons than are lost. This condition is called “supercritical” state, which allows the neutron population to increase and more power to be produced. When the desired power production is reached, adjustments are made to place the reactor into critical state that sustains neutron balance and power production. At times, such as for maintenance shutdown or refueling, reactors are placed in a “subcritical” state so that neutron and power production decrease.


Polar Vortex


Polar vortex is large frigid air mass. It is located near the earth’s geographical poles. It is low pressure area continuously circulating cold air in counter clockwise direction. When the air is being circulated it becomes more cold and denser. It is strongest in winter season and weaker during the summer. It moves very slowly or even stays stationary.Also known as Sub-Polar cyclone or Circumpolar Whirl.

Where is the Polar Vortex?

Northern Hemisphere: On earth it hovers for year around the Arctic with two centers.  i.e. 1. Canada’s Baffin Island. 2. near Siberia.

Southern Hemisphere: It is located near the edge of Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica

Why is polar vortex making this winter so cold in U.S.?

It’s normal for some of frigid air moves southward but these times it proves exceptionally by dragging piece of vortex towards U.S. U.S. Scientist have been told that in the past it occurred at the frequency of 20 years. Scientist have begun to study whether there is link between the effect of climate change and the extreme weather conditions.

Polar vortex and Ozone depletion:

The chemical reaction between nitric acid of polar stratospheric clouds reacts with CFC to form chlorine which acts as catalyst for ozone depletion. It is observed generally on the Antarctic Polar vortex.